The Man with Too Much Tea

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem, Alhamdulillahi Wasolatu Wasalaamu ‘ala Rasulillah…

A scholar of great knowledge once visited a Sufi Sage. He was very pleased to be visiting the Sage and, started talking and talking to show how much knowledge he had.

Finally the Sage said, “Let me pour you some tea,” and began pouring tea for his guest out of a teapot. He kept pouring until the teapot was full, and began to overflow onto the table.

The scholar was surprised. “What are you doing?” he asked. “You are as full as this teacup,” said the Sage. “How can I put anything in it, when it is overflowing already?”

One must therefore visit a Sufi sage with an empty heart, with a humility that is receptive to whatever the sage may choose to put in there. If one’s heart is already full – of pride, of worldly concerns- one can receive nothing. The scholar in this story was obviously a person with too much tea in him.


The following is an excerpt from Bidayah al-Hidayah by Imam Ghazali r.a. may Allah make it easy for us to practice these adabs. Amin

The Proper Conduct for a Student

  1. Greeting the Teacher/Guide/Guru with a Salutation of Peace (Salam)
  2. Limiting conversation in his presence.
  3. Not to talk unless told to by the Teacher.
  4. Not to ask anything before being permitted to.
  5. Do not go against him by saying, “So-and-so said something different than what you mentioned.”
  6. Do not mention a different view than his, such that one sees himself as knowing better than the teacher.
  7. Do not ask a question to a friend who sits together in the teacher’s class.
  8. Do not twist and turn your head during the lesson but sit serenely, head bowed as if in prayer.
  9. Do not ask too many questions especially when the teacher is not in a good mood.
  10. Stand up when the teacher stands up as a show of reverence.
  11. Do not harbor bad thoughts of him if one sees something wrong in his external acts. One has to recall the stroy of Nabi Musa a.s. and  Nabi Khidr a.s. from surah al-Kahfi of the Quran. One does not know the inner state of the guru, and upon what his actions are based.


The Guide


Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem, Ashamdulillahi Wasolatu Wasalaamu ‘ala Rasulillah…


Allah ta’ala  said, “Moses said unto him, ‘shall I follow thee that thou might teach me the right guidance taught unto thee?” Qur’an 18:67

Know that in order to travel the path of religion and reach the realm of certainty, a perfect shaykh and guide, well-acquianted with the way and possesed of sainthood and spiritual efficacy (i.e. the ability to affect, unseen and unhindered, the inner state of the seeker/murid) is essential.

“My Saints are beneath My Domes, none know them but I”. Despite his perfection of rank as a prophet and of degree as a messenger and despite his being a possesor of firm resolve, Moses, upon whom be peace, had to serve the Prophet Shu’aib continously for ten years until he was fit to receive the honour of conversing with Allah.

Then after gaining the tablets with the commandments and the leadership of the Twelve Tribes of the Children of Israel, and receiving the entirety of the Taurat  from the Divine Presence – after all this, in the school for the learning of innate knowledge, he had to request the alphabet of following from the teacher Khidr. – see verse 18:67. And then the teacher wrote the first inscription on his alphabet slate: “Thou will not be able to keep patience with me.” (18:68, 73, 76)  For see in reality –

A banquet where two thousand souls are sacrificed is no place for a loud, empty drummer.

Seduced, deceived, and outwitted upon this path is he who imagines himself able to traverse the limitless desert and attain the Ka’ba of union with the strength of his mere human footstep without guide or escort.


“Obey those who ask no reward of you (for themselves), and who have themselves received Guidance.” – YaSiin:21

Indeed the true mursyid/guide to Allah desires no reward/benefit from his disciples, having mastered renunciation. His desire is to follow in the steps of the Messengers in calling people to Allah  ta’ala. The Pole of Guidance Imam al-Haddad said, “…the shaykh should be someone who has recived the ‘Major Opening’ such that nothing of the disciple remains hidden from him. He is the healer who treats the ailments of the heart and therefore must be able to see clearly with the Eye of the Heart (basira) precisely what the disciple’s needs are at each stage of the journey and to intervene, even at a distance when necessary.”

“Say: this is my Way: I do invite unto Allah – upon the Eye of the Heart(‘ala baseera) – I and whoever follows me…” Yusuf : 108

Hence it is clear that the Shaykh must follow the Messenger both in his inward and outward states.

“…he whom Allah guides is rightly guided ; but he whom Allah leaves astray – for him will you find no protector to lead him to the Right Way (waliyya-murshidaa)” al-Kahfi : 17

to be continued insha-Allah…

1. Excerpt from ‘Mirsod al-‘Ibad min al-mabda’ ila al-ma’ad’ by Najm al-din Ar-Razi